Visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Expo 2020 Dubai’s focus on children and education has boosted its visit numbers, which have soared to 19,009,065, up almost 1.6 million in a week, with 2.7 million children under 18 visiting the site since the event opened on October 1 last year.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s virtual visitation numbers have crossed 180 million, driven by the diverse entertainment available via Live@Expo as well as extensive coverage of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Programme for People and Planet.

With just over two weeks left for the mega event to end, Expo 2020 Dubai is looking forward to its legacy and the next generation of innovators — from budding scientists to big thinkers.

Young minds at work

Earlier this month, the world’s youngest TEDx speaker, six-year-old Kiara Kaur, delivered a talk to an adult gathering on ‘Small Change Big Difference’ at the Mexico Pavilion and spoke across the site as part of International Women’s Week activities, while children visiting the Dubai Cares Pavilion have been designing their ‘dream school’ in a challenge to aid a theoretical earthquake-hit area.

On March 5, a group of innovative young students and their teachers gathered at Dubai Exhibition Centre for the fourth edition of the Emirates Young Scientist Competition, which forms part of the National Science Technology and Innovation Festival (NSTI), showing off their inventions to create a better future.

The Expo school programme offers four immersive journeys, allowing the students the chance to embark on educational tours through the site’s three vibrant Thematic Districts (Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability), as well as pavilions with experiences aligned with diverse school curricula in the UAE.

UAE’s Women Face Print exhibition, Expo 2020 Dubai
Women's face print exhibition at Expo 2020 Dubai. Image Credit: WAM

On March 18, to mark Haq Al Laila, Expo 2020 Dubai, in association with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Community Development, will welcome children and families alike in a fun, exciting and unique event at Al Forsan Park. Haq Al Laila is a time of celebration that symbolises giving and is celebrated on the 15th of Shaaban, in preparation for the arrival of Ramadan two weeks later. In the evening, Emirati children wear colourful, traditional clothes and go door-to-door in their neighbourhood singing a song in exchange for sweets.

Family entertainment venue

For Haq Al Laila, Expo 2020 will be distributing 200,000 goodie bags for children, including crisps and sweets. A camel parade, comprising 50 camels, will entertain young visitors in the evening, while bespoke stamps will be available at some Visitor Centres and at Expo 2020 Dubai’s latest family entertainment venue, The Family Place. The majlises near these Visitor Centres will have panels explaining the meaning and significance of Haq Al Laila.

As for the other highlights on site, the past week’s extraordinary line-up saw the unique voice of Emirati superstar Hussain Al Jassmi — an Expo 2020 Dubai Ambassador and one of the singers on Expo song ‘This Is Our Time’ — soaring to the heights of Al Wasl.

For children and youths, Expo 2020 Dubai offers loads of options to soak up the fun, while shoring up the intelligent quitient. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Empowering women

International Women’s Day on March 8 focused on the theme of #BreakTheBias, and brought in a raft of impressive speakers, including Her Excellency Ohood Al Roumi, UAE Minister of State for Government Development and the Future, who opened the event, to Anita Bhatia, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, and Hollywood star Rami Malek, who called on men to rectify past mistakes and empower women of the future.

Formula 1 favourite Lewis Hamilton revved up the action at Al Wasl Plaza on March 14 when he took part in a Q&A on his life as the greatest driver of this generation. The seven-time champion told the appreciative audience: “We’re all so unique and different in our own way so you just have to believe that you are unique and you’re powerful, beautiful and strong. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we put our minds to it — that’s what I try and tell myself every day. No matter how many times you stumble, it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up.”

The coming week looks set to be full of even more fun-packed events, starting with Jalsat Nights on March 15 — Khaleeji-led jam sessions to showcase the best of Arabic music and culture — and novelty Filipino pop rock group Parokya Ni Edgar taking to the stage on 18 March.

Visitors numbers have seen a phenomenal growth ever since the mega event opened its doors to the public on October 1, 2021. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Showcasing history and culture

National Days continue to draw large attendance, and Ireland — whose National Day also falls on St Patrick’s Day — has ensured a full schedule of celebrations in honour of its patron saint. A Vatican visitor is also expected for the Holy See National Day, while the Gulf Cooperation Council will be showcasing its history and culture on its honour day.

Expo Sports Arena is encouraging visitors to get involved in a Guinness World Record attempt for the most nationalities in a fitness class at one time on March 17, or deep dive into meditation with the Dylan Werner Fitness Special on March 15.

The final Theme Week of Expo 2020 Dubai — Water Week — begins on March 20. Raising awareness that water is a finite source and currently under threat, the Week is a call for collective global action and looks at what we can all do to be proactive agents of change.

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Full of special moments

The International Day of Happiness on March 20 should put a smile on everyone’s face, with a day packed full of special moments, from yoga at the Surreal water feature to a ‘Spark Joy’ trail around special happiness events at the pavilions.

Highlighting Expo 2020’s eye on the future and emphasis on young minds, teachers and children will be among the VIP guests at Expo 2020 Dubai’s closing ceremony in Al Wasl Plaza on March 31.

Visitors can get a Season Pass Finale for Dh50, with free entry for those aged 17 and under and those above 60.